Americans beat Indians at their own game? BW got foot in the mouth!

BusinessWeek carried an article about IBM’s success in India, it’s ramping up of operations in India very quickly to 53,000 employees, and winning big in the IT outsourcing deals in the subcontinent, especially from telecom operators — which is a gratifying read. However, the email from BW in my inbox had a line that completely pissed me off:

IBM once looked like a lumbering giant next to India’s agile tech upstarts. But in scarcely five years, Big Blue has come to dominate the Indian market, with a staff of 53,000 in the country and huge R&D centers in Bangalore and New Delhi. Read this edition of the Asia Insider to learn how the Americans beat the Indians at their own game.

The article never said anything to that effect! My best guess is that some guy in the PR department at BW who was responsible for the uninteresting, mundane and morbidly boring task of sending out spam suddenly suffered from a bout of foot in the mouth.

First of all, I don’t think anybody has beaten anybody in this game of outsourcing. The money has come following the talent, and it’s not just IBM, but Accenture (India’s the second largest Accenture operations), EDS (which acquired Mphasis – here and here) and all other IT biggies are making bit bets on using Indian talent to fight Indian vendors like Infosys, Wipro and TCS who have been snapping at their heels. However, I am not sure if that can be termed a win of Indian talent or of the American business acumen. (Actually, I would not prefer an argument about winning and losing at all — since it is too early to predict anything — the Indian IT vendors who used to be mere outsourcing outfits earlier now want a larger piece of the pie, become consultants, and go after bigger money. For example read this, this, this — I didn’t try to get the best articles in the area, but just some of the recent news).

<!– Digression begins

Another interesting aspect, is the comparison of the Revenues, Profits, Market Capitalization and the Price/Earnings for some of the biggies. [‘b’ indiacates a billion US Dollars and ‘m’ a million US Dollars. Data taken from Google Finance today.]

Company Revenues Profits Market Cap P/E Ratio
Infosys 3.08b 850m 25.8b 27.33
Wipro 3.64b 711m 19.71b 26.67
IBM 91b 9.4b 152.37b 17.19
Accenture 18.22b 973m 30.21b 19.45
EDS 21.26b 470m 11.59b 19.11

It seems obvious that Indian companies are far more profitable than their western counterparts for every penny (or cent perhaps) of revenue that they make — and the markets reward them accordingly. If you look at the MCap column, you would realize why the biggies are unable to try their luck at acquiring some of the larger IT companies in India — because they are bigger than the western counterparts! (IBM of course, has many divisions, and it might be difficult to get data on their software services division). So much for winning and losing.

end digression –>

Until recently, I thought that foot-in-the-mouth was not a very communicable disease and spread only on contact with a creature named George Bush. I have, obviously, been proven wrong. Ronen Sen recently caught it, and now BW! Looks like its spreading faster than I imagined. Is somebody aware of necessary vaccination which I can take?

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Feedburner down? (and what is feedburner?)

Looks like feedburner is down. I just went to check my readership figures and it showed Zero subscribers. In all humility, I accept that I don’t have too many readers, but I feel happy for every click I get (don’t the others?) and so keep checking the figures ever so often. Anyway, this is what feedburner shows me:

image

Definitely something fishy! Google, what are you doing? First the confusion in the Gmail Logo and now this?

Anyway, for those who don’t know what feedburner is: Feedburner is a service that lets you redirect all your readership through a single access point. Think of it as a gate through which the feeds would pass. Hence, you can do a bunch of stuff with your feeds:

  • Add stuff to your feeds, like advertisements, or burn amazon associates id to every book review you post
  • Make several changes to your feed format to make it standards compliant and provide other frills. It would also provide better uptime if you have a self-hosted blog
  • Clip your blog posts so that people reading it in a reader are forced to come to your blog and increase hits (*wicked curled lips*)
  • Publicize it better, with those cool-looking “617k subscribers” (not mine :P) type logos
  • Provide extra services like ‘Subscribe by email’
  • Of course, track you readership
  • One benefit which I love but is often glossed over is to be able to change your blog URL and still have people get updates on the same feed. You can essentially tell people to go to a different room at the gate, to lift the paradigm of my earlier example

Feedburner has a page on its site where it gives reasons for using it. It’s good a video too (though I haven’t watched it!)

Feedburner was recently acquired by Google. Google also added a new feed-redirection feature to their blogger service which lets people redirect their blogger feed. I wish wordpress.com provided that (you can do it in self-hosted wordpress though)

If you are serious about blogging, feedburner (or a similar service) is a must have. Provided they fix the aforementioned problem, that is.

[Others seem to have noticed it as well – WebFiles Simon Sandossu]

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Change in GMail branding – Have you noticed?

Looks Google is changing the branding of Gmail to Google Mail. It seems that Google lost rights to the GMail brand name in Germany and that is now being followed up in some other countries.

Since 2000, Daniel Giersch has held the brand “G-mail… und die Post geht richtig ab” [G-mail… the best way to go postal]. Under the G-mail brand, he operates a number of physical and electronic postal services with thousands of users, as he explained to heise online in March of 2005. Giersch therefore had a court issue a temporary restraining order against the use of “Gmail” before winning the main proceedings at the first-instance district court of Hamburg (Az. 312 O 475/05) against Google in April of 2006. Google appealed this ruling and has now lost the appeal

The legal dispute, which also detrimentally affected users, has also been extended beyond the German legal system. Currently, charges have been filed in Spain, Portugal, and Switzerland.

Looks like there has been another incident in the UK. In fact, there is a relevant BBC report dated way back in 2005. However, this is the first time I am noticing the change in India.

GMail before:

gmail

Google Mail now:

image

Funnily enough, the brand change seems to be in effect in one out of two of my email accounts. Perhaps they are slowly transitioning users to the new branding. Have you noticed the change in your email branding?

[There is another brand change story which is doing the rounds now-a-days — UTI Bank to Axis Bank — but that, of course, is for entirely different reasons]

[Email brand name change has been common lately with Hotmail transitioning to Windows Live Hotmail. This has beset the Redmond giant with quite a few problems because people have been worried about rather frequent name changes]

Finally, a technical blog!

I have done it! I finally fought off all my languor to start a technical blog, something I have been thinking of for quite some time. The blog has been born out of my desire to see better analysis on technology rather than technical news reporting (or which TechMeme is the best place). The content of the blog will obviously be limited by the knowledge of the author — any field of technology today is so deep and there are so many open questions that it is impossible to do justice to writing about it without spending a year or two working in it.

As I said, I plan to write few posts, but hopefully those which have more meaning and more technical depth. I will not talk about new products or services, fads and fashions but rather try to give commentary on more fundamental aspects of technology. I do not work in the Internet domain, and hence, I may be out of date, out of context, out of sync or all of the above, but hopefully the blog will be of use to some :)

So, to kick off the new bog, there is a rather long post on Identity (the best topic I could think of), the laws thereof, and a discussion about some of the newer federated identity management systems. Here’s presenting to you:

kpowerinfinity on technology

[Almost a week of reading has gone into it. Wanted not to underline this point, but well, had to :) A kind spattering of comments will be helpful for both the motivation of the author as well as in deciding future direction.]

Minekey at Stanford & on TechCrunch

I have written about Minekey in the past. It’s a startup that I had been involved in back in college. Today, was a great day for Minekey because it launched a new revamped site, with a much cooler widget and loads of customizability options which is what users have been looking for. The new site looks absolutely super-cool. Kudos to the team who’ve been working hard day and night.

The new updated offering is being showcased at the Always on Stanford Summit 2007, as one of the top 50 participants at the Stanford University campus. It is truly a momentous occasion for all of us — employees, alumni and well-wishers of Minekey. Minekey had also presented at Proto.in at IIT Madras last weekend.

Meanwhile, Minekey has been TechCrunched. This should drive a lot of traffic to the site, and create a lot of traction. I just hope that the servers can scale to the hits it is going to get in the next few days.

A word about Minekey again. Minekey aims to make the life of blog-readers simple by providing them recommendations based on both the content of the current page as well as the reader’s past reading habits. So, if the reader is generally interested in cricket news and visits a web-page about the stock market, it will show links from both cricket as well as stock market. It takes personalization to a whole new level because current services only provide recommendations based on the current context. The blog publisher can indicate a list of sources from which Minekey should aggregate content so show recommendations on their website. Hence, if you have multiple blogs you can aggregate content across all of them.

If you haven’t yet, try it out!

[Sadly, WordPress.com does not allow blogs to add custom widgets and so I can’t be the user of the Minekey widget :(]

UPDATE:

Some more coverage: pluGGd.in, StartupSquad, TekJuice, Bona Bhatia, Gulker, Rajiv Doshi, Delip Andra, 9:01AM, Venture Beat, VC Circle, alarm:clock, BlogSchmog, WebWare, ContentSutra, Pavithra, reyes-chow, American Venture Magazine,

And it’s also made it to today’s del.icio.us popular. (Link may not work later. If someone knows how to find the permalink of a particular day’s popular on del.icio.us, please let me know!)

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2 Talks at BCB4

Gave two talks at BarcampBangalore4:

  1. 5W – Widgets, What, Why, Where and hoW: This introduced people to widgets and included a small demo of adding a widget to your site using the Minekey Content Recommendation Widget (login required) as an example. A word about the Minekey widget again — it provides content recommendations on your blog based on both the content of the current page as well as the user’s past browsing history (and thus his/her interests). [I have put the presentation up as a PDF]
  2. Automatic Verification of Software – Past, Present and Future: This talked about why we need verification at all, what is the current state of the art and some pointers as to what might be coming in the future. [Using Sriram’s slides]

I felt that this edition of Barcamp became quite chaotic because of last minute room changes, and it was really difficult to find out what was going on in which room.

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Leipzig Philharmonic Orchestra + Dr L Subramaniam

I went to listen to the Leipzig Philharmonic Orchestra perform with Dr. L. Subramaniam today at the Chowdiah Memorial Hall. The event had received a lot of media coverage (here, here and here etc.) and no doubt the hall was completely full (with  disproportionate number of expatriates). The event was probably the most talked-about western classical concert in Bangalore for the whole year.

It was good listening to the music — I could imagine how much effort and practice western classical orchestra takes. There was perfect synchronization between all the artists. Towards the end, Dr. Subramaniam came on stage and we saw a little jugalbandi. What I found very interesting was that the sounds used in Western Classical and Hindustani Classical are very different. The Hindustany Classical is very nuanced with small variations (but lot of them), it’s extremely versatile since the artist is allowed to improvise within their own raga. Western, on the other hand, has more harmonious, smoother, almost like a cat and mouse chase. The best contrast is that Western made me think of old Charlie Chaplin movies (background score) while Hindustani made me think of old Raj Kapoor numbers. I understood that even more when the Orchestra was trying to play a composition of Dr. Subramaniam (Spring Rhapsody) and I felt they could not reproduce the original sounds that the maestro must have intended. At the same time, I am sure the discipline and the team-effort would have been impossible for Indians, I felt.

Going to Barcamp tomorrow and day after. Might be speaking in a few sessions. Let’s see how it goes!

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